More Books Than Time

Some people feel the need to finish every book they start. I do not. I will start and not finish a book if it’s poorly written. I’ll also stop reading it if it just does not click with me for any reason.

There are too many books in the world for any one person to read in a lifetime. Why waste my time when there are so many other available options?

Sometimes, though, I actually get frustrated trying to decide how to best spend my reading time. It bugs me I can’t ever get to all the books I want to read. I feel like I’m missing out on information and inspiration key for my life.

More Books than Space

Some people have more books than the space in which to keep them in an organized fashion. The advent of electronic books has helped that situation considerably though.

Thinking of this reminds me of a particular comment the disciple John makes a couple of times.

“And I suppose that if all the other things Jesus did were written down, the whole world could not contain the books.” (John 21:25)

Jesus did so much during his three-year ministry the world could not contain a written account of all of it. So, all the books in the world together pale in comparison to what would be a complete written account of Jesus’ ministry.

For a bibliophile like me, that’s an amazing fact to try and grasp.

We Have Enough

I wonder what else would be recorded if electronic books were available in Jesus’ day. Would we just get more examples supporting what we already know? Are we missing out because we don’t know all Jesus did? Or, would having all that written down be so much information that reading it all would be a burden, kind of like reading all the books in the Library of Congress?

We can’t definitively answer these questions. However, we can know for certain that what we DO have written down in Scripture is enough. We can be certain that what we’re given in the Bible provides exactly what we need.

“Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:30-31)

Complete Knowledge

We can also realize that even though our knowledge remains incomplete this side of Heaven, one day our knowledge will be complete.

“For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away, but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will fully know just as I also have been fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:9-12)

How many people actually witnessed much of what Jesus did — both what was written down and what wasn’t — and still failed to believe he was who he said he was? They teach us that belief doesn’t come with knowing everything.

Comfort in Knowing

These Scripture comfort to those of us who like to know lots of stuff. They help those who like to understand the why and what and feel frustrated when we can’t.

We can instead turn our efforts toward what to do with what we do know. We don’t have to try and wish away our circumstances and remain frustrated trying to understand what we don’t know.

Frodo: “I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.”

Gandalf: “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you.”

(Fellowship of the Ring)

We can’t do much with what we don’t know, though it can consume us if we let it. We can, however, determine what to do with what we do know.

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16)

Solving the Problem of Information Overload

Information 1

Information Overload

“I feel… thin. Sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread. I need a holiday. A very long holiday.” (Bilbo in The Fellowship of the Ring)

Can you relate? While specifics vary from one person to the next, many people, myself included, feel spread thin by the constant flow of information and constant access available every minute of every day. And we largely bring it on ourselves through our unbalanced approach to interacting with technology.

This lack of balance leads to too much information coming too fast with no down time allowing for processing any information in a healthy way. Information overload does to our minds what indiscriminate eating and a sedentary life do to our bodies.

Infobesity

Information overload, known as “infobesity” or “infoxication,” has actually been around since the 1970’s. Over time, information overload leads to “information anxiety,” which distracts and negatively impacts an individual’s ability to be productive.

Even before any of these terms existed, George Miller hypothesized that humans have limited ability to process information and that overload results when these limits are exceeded. Evidence of taxed limits include…

  • Confusion
  • Poor decision making
  • Inability to generate original thoughts
  • Inability to have unique ideas

Nichoas Carr and Eric Schmidt agree with Miller and say that information overload could have an impact on though processes by…

  • Obstructing deep thinking
  • Blocking understanding
  • Impeding formation of memories
  • Making learning more difficult

This condition of “cognitive overload” results in diminished information retaining ability and failure to connect remembrances to experience stored in the long-term memory, leaving thoughts thin and scattered.

Simply put, information overload reduces our ability to think, understand, form memories and learn. It limits our capability for retaining information and accurately remembering experiences.

Finding Balance

To a great extent, we cannot control how much information comes our way nor how much we have to use technology. However, we’re not helpless either. We can find balance and avoid feeling spread thin by overindulgence.

Balance comes through setting information boundaries that mitigate the negative impact the constant flow of information has on a person’s ability to think, reason and remember. It also comes through deliberately capturing  and filtering thoughts.

(Note: The next two posts will look at the idea of capturing & filtering thoughts in relation to technology and information overload, and next Thursday’s post focuses on providing ways to find balance by creating information boundaries.)

Creating balance in the atmosphere of the inner self requires developing ways to regulate and filter the information entering our lives. Doing so helps create a state of  information balance instead of information overload in our lives.

DISCUSSION: What symptoms do you see of information overload in your life?

Sunday Reflections – But for the Warning in My Heart

The following conversation between Boromir & Frodo in The Fellowship of the Ring in which Boromir tries desperately to persuade Frodo to go to Minas Tirith instead of the way that Frodo has chosen reflects well the battle we all have between choosing God’s wisdom over the world’s wisdom.

Boromir: “I know why you seek solitude. You suffer. I see it day by day. You sure you do not suffer needlessly? There are other ways, Frodo, other paths that we might take.”

Frodo: “I know what you would say. And it would seem like wisdom but for the warning in my heart.

Boromir: “Warning? Against what? We’re all afraid, Frodo. But to let that fear drive us to destroy what hope we have… don’t you see, that is madness?”

Frodo: “There is no other way!”

Frodo’s way presents more obvious struggle, difficulty and even impossibility, and Boromir’s way does seem easier at least in the short term. But key in on the reason Frodo gives Boromir for his decision. Frodo tells him that a warning in his heart indicates that Boromir’s way exists as the wrong choice.

Earthly wisdom doesn’t ask for an invitation, and it requires little effort to understand. It pursues, much like Boromir pursued Frodo to persuade him. Worldly wisdom is relative, unique and different depending on an individual’s tastes, preferences and moods. Applying worldly wisdom lacks any complexity too. Just follow feelings, and the world’s wisdom easily takes over. In other words, do nothing to stop the world’s wisdom from impacting you, and impact you it will.

Godly wisdom, while infinitely more abundant, comes by asking God for it and gaining an understanding of His Word. Deliberately choosing Godly wisdom protects your heart against the world’s selfish and increasingly evil ways. When we learn to Develop Wisdom that comes from God and then apply it, we find that His wisdom creates a “pathway through the wilderness” and “rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:18-19).

So why does the world’s wisdom sometimes seem so much easier to obtain and apply that God’s wisdom?

In our instant-gratification culture, easier often seems better and even feels better at least for a little while. Experience tells me, however, that easier often leads to more complications in the long run. God’s ways get at the root of our beliefs, attitudes, actions and words, something many people want to avoid for fear of what they’ll find.

The world’s wisdom provides a short-sighted solution to meeting a craving we all have inside of us. More stuff to have and do seems to be the solution for satisfying this craving. Yet, scripture tells of a very different way to fulfill that craving, which seems insatiable when filled with the wrong things. Because no matter how much sand you eat, it will not fulfill your craving for water!

“As the deer pants for the water, so my soul pants for thee, O God, for the living God.” (Psalm 42:1-2)

“My soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh yearns for Thee, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1)

“Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture said, streams of living water will flow from him.’” (John 7:37)

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty, I will give drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.” (Revelation 21:6)

Worldly wisdom never satisfies because, as Romans 2:15 says, God’s wisdom (His law) is written on our hearts. The world’s wisdom can never erase or write over that which God imprinted on our hearts – the warning in our hearts to live according to His will and His ways.

Only when we realize that and then pursue the only wisdom that can truly satisfy us to the core will we discover a burden that truly is easier and lighter than anything the world has to offer (Matthew 11:30).

DISCUSSION: How do you fight the lure of worldly wisdom and pursue the complete refreshment of God’s wisdom?

For more discussion on this topic, please read Piper: The Devil Says All Truth Is God’s Truth by Loren Pinilis at Life of a Steward.

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